Consumers are being urged not to take salad items off their menu this Christmas entirely, despite the recent recall of some contaminated spinach, which is limited to produce from a single farm in Victoria.
Vegetable peak industry body AUSVEG is reassuring families across Australia this summer that leafy vegetable products that are available and for sale on the retail shelves are safe after Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) confirmed that all affected products, linked to the Riviera Farms baby spinach, have been identified and recalled.
However, the contamination, in which several people have fallen ill, has affected more than just the single farm involved in the outbreak, with other spinach brands and products at supermarkets seen, still unsold, on the shelves in recent days.
"We have spoken to growers who have experienced reduced orders and drops in sales who are not even in the same state as the source of the recalled spinach, which is an avoidable situation that hurts the entire industry," AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote said. "Vegetable growers were hopeful that a busy and productive Christmas and the festive season would be a buoyant finish to what has been the hardest year for vegetable producers in recent memory. We urge consumers to support their local growers and continue to buy plenty of fresh salad products in the lead-up to the festive season and in the summer period, which will be in high supply and good value across Australia."
Mr. Coote says this incident adds to a tough past 12 months for the industry, which he says have been the most difficult in recent times for the industry. AUSVEG says if anyone has any of the recalled product, dispose of it and seek medical attention if required - but the organization does not want consumers to take leafy greens off the menu this Christmas.
"While all growers have faced significant increases to costs of production, floods and consistent rain, and critical labor shortages this year, leafy salad and spinach growers have had it particularly tough during this period," Mr. Coote said. "The health and safety of our consumers is the top priority for our industry, so we urge anyone with those recalled products to dispose of them and seek medical attention if you are concerned about your health. Given the affected products have originated from a single farm, and all affected products are being removed from shelves, Australian consumers can be confident in other spinach and leafy salad products that are currently available for sale, which are unaffected by the recall."
FSANZ CEO Dr. Sandra Cuthbert said the national food regulation system worked collaboratively to identify the source of the affected baby spinach and the products it was subsequently incorporated into and that all affected products have now been recalled.
It has been confirmed the recalled spinach products were sourced from one producer, with the spinach all located in one field.
"Investigations regarding the origin of this incident and the exact nature of the contaminant are ongoing and being led by the relevant jurisdictional authority," she said. "Measures have however already been put in place to mitigate the risk in the future. Consumers can continue to trust that Australia has a safe and nutritious food supply. I wish those who have become unwell a speedy recovery, and encourage those who are concerned about their health, to seek medical attention."
For a list of all products being recalled by FSANZ, click here.
For more information
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
Tel.: +61 2 6271 2222